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Old 02-05-2003, 03:57 PM   #62
Icarus4578
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Contra ~ Shattered Soldier - PlayStation 2 - Rating 6
After a couple disgraceful installments on PSone Konami finally develops another Contra that's true to its roots, featuring 3D graphics done in 2D, though it feels at times like playing a PSone title with more detailed polygons. From start to end, Contra is one big tour-de-force, down and dirty series of boss fights with only a few enemies to keep gluing boss fights together. In other words, it's similar to virtually every Treasure action game (ever play Alien Soldier for Mega Drive? How about Gunstar Heroes?), though in actuality Konami had this style of gaming down pat with Contra III.... though even with that the developers for Treasure (who, mostly, were then-employees of Konami) had a hand in its development. So is this a positive or a negative for the series? I think it works out well to an extent.
You begin by selecting from 4 stages (Strider 2 anyone?) until the 5th opens up (and 6th and 7th on hard difficulty). Unlike other installments you have three weapons and that's it, and you can select them on the fly mid-combat - an idea similar to how Axelay worked on SNES and was probably used because of it. And this is an intentional inclusion in the fact that each set of enemies and (esp.) boss encounters normally require a specific weapon (or a few) to take them down quicker. In contrast, earlier installments allowed you to collect weapons during the stages (and in C3 you could hold up to two at once). Boss fights happen quite often and this is definitely where the game's foundation is. Memorize a boss pattern, repeat, repeat, repeat... They added in-game cutscenes after you beat some stages, and these advance the story well.
The bosses range from a huge mech robot that transforms (while you're on top of a train), the first boss from Contra 3 with an added form, an alien head feeding on the remains of a creature you just defeated (you'll see), a massive fish with a freaky human head (reminds me of Seaman for DC), and on and on, until the real final boss fight which you'll only see if you play through on hard. You get graded after every stage and you'll get an S if you can make it through the entire stage without losing a life AND getting 100%. This is actually quite feasible, unlike in Panzer Dragoon Orta. ;) And the difficulty determines how many lives you get: if you die, you start right where you are, unless you have to continue... So why bother getting high ratings? Good question ~ so you can unlock things like a cinema section, art gallery and more. But once again, most of the stuff only opens if done on, you guessed it, hard difficulty (typical Konami).
The music ranges from heavy rock to techno-dance beat stuff which is not memorable like the music in other Contras, though the rock stuff really pumps you up. The only truly memorable piece is the last boss fight (where he/it keeps changing form). A nice piece of music that's very fitting.
So why give it a rating of 6 instead of a 7 or 8? Good question. It's not as good overall as previous installments. Don't get me wrong; this is truly a great action game. It's just not as cool as something like Super C or Contra 3. In all previous installments there were STAGES and yes, they had sub-boss fights but nowhere near to the extent of C~SS. Also, the bosses were a bit better in the older ones, not to mention better soundtracks (which goes a long way, believe me). However, despite its flaws, which aren't many in quantity, Contra ~ SS does rock while it lasts. If you're looking for a deep, challenging action game that will rock you to your core I recommend you get it. However, if you own other installments on NES, Genesis, and SNES you already own the best Contras; buy it if you want to complete your collection. You'll still enjoy it, but it probably won't have the lasting aftertaste of the others. I'm personally happy that Konami made an effort to return to its roots and didn't forsake its 2D foundation, and I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Last edited by Icarus4578; 03-13-2004 at 08:17 AM.
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